What do you think of when someone says “Mormon”? Is it those happy, smiling families? Those young men who wear name tags and ride bikes? The big white temples that everyone has questions about? An episode of South Park? While these are common Mormon stereotypes, I do not fit into any of said stereotypes. I’m no “Molly Mormon.” I’m half Cambodian, my entire family isn’t Mormon, and I pick and choose regarding my involvement within my church. Before I begin my venture into my experiences within the LDS Church, I would like make a disclaimer: These are my personal experiences and beliefs. I in no way represent the leadership or the entirety of the church, nor am I trying to diminish any of the church policies or beliefs or other members’ experiences within the church.
I’ve grown up in a strange limbo of being Mormon and not. My father does not belong to the church yet my mother does. The basis of the Mormon church is family, and while I deeply appreciate their family values, I have never felt the need or want to create my own family. The church has even released a document that discusses the family in great depth, titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” One part reads “We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.” Members of the church are commanded to have children, and while rearing these children, they are commanded on the roles and duties of the mother and father, which says that “Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” For many, this is enough to confirm that they should become parents and what their roles should be as a parent. Often, I have seen newly married couples questioned as to when they will start their family and are encouraged as soon as possible to have children. Having children young can be the right decision for many people and can be incredibly rewarding, but there are several circumstances in my life that cause me to not want children. I have goals regarding a successful career, international travel, humanitarian work, and education. Also, my family carries many congenital defects that I refuse to pass down to my children. I know that I would not be a good mother until I had experienced the world and life the way I’ve always wanted to, and although it’s contrary to my faith, I know what I need to become happy.
The Mormon church also believes that the only way for you to be with your family forever and to live with your Heavenly Father once again is temple marriage. This involves specific, confidential ordinances and covenants that allow you to be sealed to your spouse and future children for all time and eternity. However, I felt that that was not the correct decision for me because the LDS church promotes a specific family ideal, one that my family does not fit. While I believe in the church, I do not want to be sealed in the temple to my spouse because my father could not witness it. Only people who have been endowed (another ordinance in the temple) can witness a temple marriage. My father is not a member of the church, and he is one of the most important people in my life. Without him, I would be completely lost, and he gave up everything in his life to insure that my life would be a good one. I find it especially cruel to get married in a situation that does not allow him to witness the biggest moment of my life. I could not and will not do it unless he could accompany me. Personally, marriage holds very little importance to me and seems to be more of a nuisance than anything else. For those who find comfort in and love their experiences of marriage, whether temple or not, I respect and appreciate our difference, but I believe that commitment does not need to be secured by a piece of paper, a ceremony, a dress, rings, and an outrageously expensive party. I feel that temple marriage is meant for those who either are willing to sacrifice their parents being there on their big day or for those whose families fit the ideal LDS family. Neither of those apply to me.
Finally, the LDS church promotes that mothers stay home while fathers work. My greatest goal in love is to obtain an education and a successful career, but women are advised not to hold both careers and be mothers. One leader of the church, President Spencer W. Kimball, said “No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother—cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children.” While I deeply respect women who want that lifestyle, I would be incredibly unhappy.
I don’t want kids. I don’t want a husband. I don’t want to stay at home. When and if I choose to settle down and create a family, I want to be able to have a desire for that. Nobody should live a life they don’t want, so I’m going to live the life that would make me most happy. I know that God will understand.